A foreigner, either as a missionary or otherwise,
will never take so well with the natives of this country, let him be ever
so good and kind to them; there is always a distrust on the part of the
native to the foreigner, from the fact that the native has been so long
down-trodden by the white man.
- Henry Steinhauer in a letter to the Missionary Society of the Wesleyan
Methodist Church in Canada, 1875.
Henry Bird Steinhauer was born in 1818, near the present-day Rama Reserve in Ontario. He was the
oldest son of Bigwind and Mary
Kachenooting and was known as either George Kachenooting or
Sowengisik. It is probable that this young Ojibwa was originally named
Sowengisik and took the new name after an American patron offered to
provide for his education if he adopted his name (the name change was
formalized in 1828). Steinhauer attended a number of schools, including the
prestigious Upper Canada Academy from which he graduated at the head of
his class in 1839. He interrupted his education to teach,
once at the Credit River Mission and once at the Alderville Mission school.
He began missionary work in 1840 at Lac La Pluie and soon
after moved to
Norway House. There he met Jessie Joyful
(Seeseeb Mamanuwartum) and on August 5, 1846
they were married. Together they would have five daughters and five sons.
In 1854 he went to England with Egerton Ryerson to raise awareness of
Western missionary work, returning the following year to begin his missionary work in what would become Alberta,
and where he would remain for the rest of his life.
The year 1875 marked a turning point in Steinhauer's life, perhaps
owing to the
increased white immigration to the area-while he did not change his
religious leanings or stop his missionary work, he withdrew from the missionary society and asserted his First Nations identity
In 1884 he contracted influenza and passed away on December 29, one day after the death of his friend and
colleague Benjamin Sinclair.
The families agreed to bury the two men together in one grave.
Gerald. The Roots of the Province: Alberta's First 50 Years and 100
Years of Christian Service. Telfordville, Alberta: The United Church
of Canada, 1955.